WELCOME TO THE From The Wilderness ARCHIVES (1998-2006)
A RESEARCH TREASURE; AND MAP FROM PAST, TO PRESENT, TO FUTURE
Michael C. Ruppert
“…Today, most local television stations maintain vestigial news operations that virtually ignore politics and government in favor of the sensational and superficial – anything that can loosely be called news and collected on the cheap.
“The only interests served are the financial interests of the stations’ owners.
“Something similar has been creeping across the American newspaper industry for decades now, as chain ownership has sprawled across the landscape like a corporate kudzu vine. One vital local or regional newspaper after another has been hollowed out by frightened managers with margins to meet on behalf of desperate executives with unforgiving investors to satisfy. In town after town, readers have been left with papers that are little more than columns of generic type assembled for no other purpose than to surround the ads…
“… [T]he smart money boys don’t see any way to cut a path to prosperity. It’ll just have to be done through reinvestment and innovation – the qualities that will make possible the emergence of the print/online hybrids that clearly are the future of newspaper journalism.”
Tim Rutten, “Tribune Needs to Look at the Big Picture”, The Los Angeles Times, January 20, 2007
January 31, 2007 – One of the lines that became almost a trademark for “From The Wilderness” (FTW) over its 104 months of continuous publication was, “Until you change the way money works, you change nothing.” What Tim Rutten tells us above is essentially the same thing, “stockholder interest is not public interest”. The issue that caused him to write was a lackluster series of bids for the media giant Tribune Corporation which owns way too many TV stations and newspapers, including The Los Angeles Times, which was my hometown paper for 35 years.
That stockholder interest is not public interest is clear because while the Dow is at all time highs, home foreclosures are approaching catastrophic highs and existing home sales are at their lowest levels in 17 years. Bankruptcies are soaring and the “middle class” is being swallowed in debt.
As FTW told its readers two years ago, the housing bubble was going to pop “big time” and problems would be compounded by the inevitably soaring costs of energy, which would then translate into increased food costs and even more debt. Recent “drops” in oil prices are illusory symbols which are only encouraging more reckless consumption because they conceal the underlying fact that the world has peaked in oil production and begun an inevitable and irreversible decline. FTW actually predicted some drops in oil prices and demonstrated – in one of our final articles -- how these drops actually confirm the basic problem; the world is starting to run out of usable energy.
Yet the corporate media, protecting its shares, trumpets its propaganda to a public less and less willing to accept it: shareholder service, not public service. Buy. Consume. Expand.
FTW never had stockholders. We never took paid advertising. We took only subscriptions from people who saw and derived value from our hard reporting, fearless commentary and tireless work. Over eight and half years we not only broke some blockbuster stories that got worldwide attention, we paid a lot of writers, activists and vendors in a sustainable way that had never happened before. We offered a different financial model for journalism that may have, in the end, garnered us just as many enemies as did our reporting.
More important than anything else, we taught people how to take available, findable data and think and interpret it for themselves.
From 2002, when it became clear that the Bush Administration was going to lie, cheat and bludgeon its way into an invasion of Iraq, no other publication (I believe of any size) did more than FTW to expose the lies (WMD’s, Iraqi links to 9-11) than FTW. No other publication spent as much effort – especially through the work of the great Stan Goff – in dissecting and chronicling the failures, arrogance, and blunders that led to the military tragedy we see today. What is happening in Iraq now is exactly what FTW told you it would look like from the beginning. We saw the carnage coming even as the Bush administration touted “Mission Accomplished”.
Our focus on the corruption of the Bush administration was not our only raison d’ètre. We started in 1998 when the hot issue was the CIA’s involvement in bringing cocaine into the US (Los Angeles) during the Contra wars. We took on the Clinton Administration and a corrupt history of illegal covert operations going back to Vietnam. Anywhere there was criminal activity by government agencies; anywhere covert operations were being used to conceal crimes or generate profits; any time the government lied about major crimes of past or present we were there.
A list of our achievements is available from the home page and you can see for yourself how fearless we were in looking after the public interest; which is simply responsible, well-documented, truth telling and investigation.
Because we aggressively investigated government and corporate corruption we made a lot of enemies. Over the years we survived many attempts to put us out of business until in the end we succumbed. Many of these efforts at sabotage are well documented within these pages. I, being the engine that drove FTW, just ran out of gas with the final assault in the summer of 2006 after 28 years of dedicated activism.
In late June of 2006 FTW’s new offices in Ashland, Oregon were burglarized and all seven of our computers were smashed beyond recognition. At the time we were deep in the middle of a large seven-part expose of crimes and improprieties in the Department of Defense surrounding the investigation of the “friendly-fire” death of former pro football star turned Army Ranger, Pat Tillman. Then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was directly implicated in criminal activity during our investigation. I had obtained 2,000 pages of Army records from Pat’s wonderful mother Mary, reviewed them, copied them and turned them over to one of the most fearless and best writers I have ever known, retired US Army Special Forces Master Sergeant, Stan Goff.
As of this writing I am told that there are ongoing governmental investigations arising from our series, investigations that may ultimately reach to Rumsfeld himself. But the burglary, and ensuing (subsequently discredited) allegations of improprieties on my part was the last battle for me. I was off balance from years of fighting and I was physically, emotionally and spiritually out of gas. On the home page I will have a separate special message about this for the hundreds and hundreds of loyal and dedicated FTW supporters who continue to show me their unbelievable support and love.
A last-ditch flight to Venezuela in the hopes of finding sanctuary and making FTW a bi-national publication didn’t work. The Venezuelan government refused to trust a gringo who had once been a cop (even though there were 600,000 Google entries under my name) and my health was in such serious decline from the years of stress, that it became necessary to return to North America just to save my life. By late September I was passing out after walking a few blocks on Caracas’ sidewalks. Free blood tests provided by Cuban doctors showed some serious problems.
The people I left in charge of FTW could not keep it running even though some tried very, very hard. There were great friends and hard workers, there were those who didn’t care and there were enemies. But the bottom line is that what FTW needed in Ashland was someone with the vision, leadership and dedication that I had supplied all those years and there was no one to fill that void.
Shortly after leaving the US I wrote that I would never return. But even as I wrote that I was weakened, worn out by stress and not thinking clearly. I expressed strong sentiments in my anger and frustration. In the end, however, when I was near death and knew that I could not make it in a foreign culture with no money left I eagerly allowed myself to be flown back first to Canada, and then driven to New York where loyal fans and subscribers knew and understood that my life was on the line. I will describe the medical saga elsewhere.
The stories of what happened to FTW during its last months are available from the home page. Evolution was my last story for FTW. We have taken nothing down. Our reportorial record is here intact for all to see. But the real value is in our index of stories and the search engine.
We did something special. We did something that will last. What resides in these archives are not stories which will grow stale with time. What resides here is a map of how the world has worked, does work, and will continue to work. The search engine and the indexes will take you many places on many issues that will be forefront in your lives and the lives of your children for decades to come.
For eight and a half years FTW named names and made specific charges of criminal activity by government and public figures. Not once in our history were we ever sued. The truth is (and has always been) a perfect defense against libel. You will find all of our stories thoroughly sourced, the same as I did with my book “Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil” which has nearly 1,000 footnotes.
“Rubicon” is now in the Harvard School of Business library and the libraries of many universities. It is a book that rose to #33 on the Amazon best-seller list in 2004 and remains prominently in many American bookstores today.
There are so many people who made FTW great. You will find their names throughout this site; wonderful, courageous souls who are gifted writers, researchers and thinkers. Many are now published authors in their own right. All of them are heroes. It was their work, as much as mine that enabled us to do so many great things.
We traveled to and reported from nine countries. I lectured at more than 12 major universities in the US and Canada. I was asked to speak at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. Several of FTW’s best writers were asked to speak at major conferences. FTW was quoted in the BBC and maybe two-dozen major videos. We were live on Canadian national television. I was asked to serve as a questioner at a hearing on 9-11 chaired by the Honorable Cynthia McKinney (D–GA) in the Rayburn House Office Building. For five years at whatever event we attended we were known, respected and we were able to ask questions. Sometimes people were afraid of us, but they couldn’t ignore us, as happened when FTW writer Michael Kane questioned four-star Air Force Generals at the last public hearing on 9-11, or me when I questioned former CIA Director James Woolsey at a hearing on energy shortages in Torrance, California in 2005.
At our peak we had more than 8,000 paid subscribers and 23,000 free subscribers. They came from more than 40 countries and included more than 50 members of the US Congress and professors at more than 50 universities from all around the world.
We taught the world about 9-11 and Peak Oil and sustainability and the impossibility if infinite growth. We bought products from and promoted many other great research and activist organizations. FTW produced more original stories on Peak Oil than any site on the web. We owe a great debt of gratitude to our long-time energy editor, geologist Dale Allen Pfeiffer and later to brilliant young writers like Michael Kane who were so far ahead of their time.
Most importantly perhaps, we taught people how to think. We were the “red pill” from “The Matrix”. Even though out last original article was published in November 2006 our site continues to draw thousands of visitors a day.
We no longer take subscriptions. This does cost money and we need your donations to do keep this site available.
Why do people still come? They come for the research contained in more than 300 original articles. They come to check new stories against the map we have so carefully drawn with our research. They come to take new data and compare it with what we have already drawn and see where the world is going on a map FTW made and taught them how to read for themselves.
Popular demand has made it clear that the world wants the FTW archives available. We cannot do this without your help. A simple donation to cover our web hosting and the services of a web master who will post occasional updates and notices can keep the site up for as long as people want and need it.
If there is excess it will come to me where I am still, as of this writing, receiving medical treatment in New York City and not yet able to work.
In a separate message I will talk about my personal status. But for now, I and all of the wonderful people who made FTW what it was and who changed the face of internet journalism, invite you to examine, delight and wonder, at the things we did, and the map that we drew for you which will serve you for a long time to come.
Michael C. Ruppert
Be sure to visit my blog
where the spirit of FTW lives on.
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